13 November 2011 | ryansternmd
A film that could have been great with a bigger budget
The story of this film is excellent, with great character development, a glimpse into the seldom seen world of Orthodox Jews, and a thoughtful plot. But, you can tell from watching it that this independent film suffered from a low budget. The script could have used some improved dialog. The cinematography could have been better. But as a gay Jew, I grew to love this film and over time have found layers of meaning that I missed in the past. The film has two protagonists and does switch POV back and forth. Charlie/Shai (Probably Chai if spelled correctly from Hebrew) is a gay man who has left Brooklyn to live in Manhattan. He has rejected his faith and assimilated into the gay community. Emanuel is an Orthodox Jew living with his family in Brooklyn. They are pressuring him into an arranged marriage. As the family's plans for his wedding progress, he begins to realize that he may be gay. However, in his Orthodox community in Brooklyn, he knows no gay men. In desperation, he turns to his childhood friend (and possibly distant relation) Shai in Manhattan to learn what it is to be gay. As Emanuel struggles with his possible homosexuality, Shai must deal with his Orthodox relations who still live in Brooklyn. As Shai and Emanuel share more time together to deal with each other's problems, a romantic relationship develops. As Shai spends more time with Emanuel, he senses a spiritual void in his life that Judaism once filled. As Emanuel spends more time with Shai, he gradually comes to accept his homosexuality. But the two learn from each other: Emanuel learns how to be a Jewish gay man; Shai learns how to be a gay Jewish man. When they finally move in together, they are Jews who happen to be gay and not gays who happen to be Jewish. They form their own Jewish home together. Every time I watch this movie as a gay Jew, I am drawn into both worlds: Judaism and the gay community. It makes me wax romantic that I could find a Jewish partner. But, I also after repeated viewings, have come to describe myself as a Jewish gay man and not a gay Jewish man. The distinction is subtle: it is about priorities. And, to me, this film elevates the characters' Jewish faith above their gay identity. This film was finally given a DVD release in 2008.
I wish I could afford to finance the film maker, David Nahmod, to remake the film with a revised script and better filming, as well as a better score. With money and time, a remake would be a great film. I encourage anyone who is gay and Jewish to give this film a chance and to not reject it for its low budget flaws. Mark Donald Ryan Stern, Moshe David benAvraham b'eretz Yisra'el